Dick Clerkin: 'I'm just delighted he is getting an opportunity'
By Cian O'Connell
Dick Clerkin never had any doubts about Jack McCarron’s class - his cousin just needed to be fully fit. So how McCarron performed during the Allianz Football League didn’t surprise Clerkin, who will act as a Sky Sports analyst this summer.
In five Division One matches for Monaghan this spring McCarron registered 3-29, 3-13 from play. “I'm just delighted the county and country can see the talent I could see at underage playing in the back garden knowing he is as good if not the best footballer talent wise that I've ever played with,” Clerkin says.
“He can do stuff and did stuff with the ball that not too many other people can. I'm just delighted he is getting an opportunity, hopefully now he will get a run to do it on the biggest stage of all which is Championship.”
Clerkin grew up next door to McCarron and was always struck by his desire for sport. “We all brought Jack up, the talent that he had from an early age,” Clerkin remarks.
“He was one of these kids you hear about, he always had a football in his hand from when he was fit to walk. There was a time he couldn't walk when he broke his leg as a young lad, he was in a wheelchair and a brace for what seemed an eternity. Even then you couldn't keep him in the wheelchair, he'd be jumping down trying to play football.
“I think he was six or seven, he just loved football, it was all he ever wanted to do. When he got to the stage of being county standard, county calibre, to see his body not allowing him to display his talents was hugely frustrating for him, his family, and everyone around him.
“To be honest there was a while there you wondered was it ever going to happen such was the bad luck so when it finally has this year in the League everybody is just delighted for him on a personal level.”
Despite claiming Ulster titles in 2013 and 2015, Monaghan failed to clear the All Ireland Quarter-Final hurdle, but Clerkin feels that they the potential to embark on a lengthy adventure.
“I think Monaghan are good enough to get to an All Ireland Final,” is Clerkin’s assessment. “If you get there all bets are off.
"It isn't just to win a Quarter Final, to say you are happy enough with that and that is the glass ceiling. Monaghan need to be able to come down here, to be able to perform, to score, to be able to show that expansive play that teams show when they come in here. That is what Monaghan need to do.”
Monaghan’s failure to get past the last eight during Clerkin’s playing career was a disappointment. “That is probably the regret, when we got to that stage our performances were poor,” Clerkin admits.
“That is the frustrating thing. You could come down here get a handy draw and win a token Quarter-Final. Grand, but what is that. You've plenty of average teams that have won Quarter-Finals and got no further. Monaghan need to think outside Clones, to come down here with no baggage.
“It is the same field, same size ball with the same posts, Monaghan just need to play with a bit more freedom, I'd love for them to do that if they get the opportunity to do that, to put in a performance, because there are players there that can light up Croke Park.
“We've seen glimpses of it, we just need to see it over a sustained 70 minutes. If you put in a performance you can't look back with regrets if the result doesn't go your way. Our regret would be we didn't put in the performances.”